From the Fanposts – CJScoobs
What an off-season it has been!! Seems like only yesterday we were all gearing up to watch the Chiefs play in the AFC Championship game. The result of that game has led to a complete overhaul of the defensive side of the ball, the potential to have the greatest Offense the game has ever seen with the best QB in the game and expectations like this team has never seen before. Saturday night vs Cincinnati at Arrowhead will be the first time to see some of the potential pieces of a championship run in action. With that being said I in no way shape or form expect to see much action or any action at all from the key pieces to the Chiefs. I don’t expect to see any of the starters to play more than one series if they even suit up at all. ( No way Mahomes, Hill, Kelce, Watkins, Jones, Clark, or Mathieu see many reps.)
1. Mecole Hardman
The Chiefs traded up in the second round to acquire this burner from Georgia as their first pick in the 2019 Draft. Initially many thought Hardman would be a primary return specialist but with his recent performance in camp it would lead some to speculate his role on offense could be larger than many have been expecting. I expect to see him take some punts and kicks but I expect Andy Reid to run some plays that will revolve around him being the primary receiving target on Offense.
2. Juan Thornhill
The Chiefs other second round draft pick is one who a lot of people around the NFL thought was a steal for the Chiefs to be able to take in the second round based on some first round grades. Thornhill was a more than proven player at Virginia and has shown some flashes of being a potential day one starter coming out of camp. He will have to beat out incumbent Dan Sorensen who played his best game ever in the AFC title game but if the Chiefs have a younger, just as capable, if not more, option they would almost certainly have to go with Thornhill.
3. Tanoh Kpassagnon
There was a time this offseason when many thought KPass would be a dead man walking. With the drafting of Breeland Speaks and acquisitions of Emanuel Ogbah and Alex Okafor it looked like time was about to be up for the former second rounder. NOT SO FAST!! KPass has been turning some heads so far with his relentless play in camp and even getting first team reps in sub packages. It looks like the supremely gifted third year player may finally be turning the corner from project into contributor. And if he ends up being the first end off the bench for the Chiefs watch out, the front 4 could be an even more dangerous group.
4. The Linebackers
What was easily one of the Chiefs biggest weaknesses in 2018 could be a strength in 2019. Going back to a classic 4-3 could in fact help a couple of the players in this group. The Chiefs don’t have any world beaters in this area but they have a lot of potential to be a stout crew. Reports are already coming in that Anthony Hitchens looks fast right now and has been flying to the ball. Hitchens struggled in Suttons 3-4 read and react but hopefully can play instinctual in Spag’s new scheme. Competition is the name of the game and I believe the 3 best will be on the field opening day vs Jacksonville. I would look for Ben Niemen, Darron Lee, and DOD to play a lot of reps in the game vs Cincinnati. The Chiefs know what they have Hitchens, Ragland, and to an extent Wilson.
5. Chad Henne
He’s got the best gig in the world. Gets to back up the MVP and gather football knowledge from one of the best minds in the game. It’s Chad Henne’s world and we are just living in it. However that doesn’t mean that the backup QB isn’t a position of vital importance. If the unthinkable were to happen, Henne will more than likely be called in to man the Offense. It would be a lot like a bus driver trying to fly a jumbo jet from what we have seen in his limited reps. Henne appears to have a good knowledge of the Offense and to be capable to play within his own capabilities to move the ball. I expect a good 2 or even 3 quarters from him Saturday.
6. The fight for backup tight end.
This had been one of the more juicy competitions of camp, and I fully expect it to carry over into Saturday and the rest of the preseason. Blake Bell has turned heads so far in camp for not only his performance in the offense but also for his ability to be an everyman on special teams. Deon Yelder is a more natural tight end having played the position in college. Rookie John Lovett had drawn praise from Coach Reid for his ability to play fullback, tight end, and special teams. The former Ivy League QB has very Anthony Sherman like qualities, the kind that coaches look for when cracking down the 53 man roster. The competition will be fierce in the preseason but a key contributor could come out of the trio.
7. Charvarius Ward
Ward almost had a storybook 2018 season. A young undrafted player thrown right into the middle of a playoff run against the game’s best and having a penalty negate what would have been the game sealing interception. Ward is a bigger corner standing over 6 ft 1 with incredibly long arms. He showed amazing potential but the coaches are going to have to see more if he wants to be able to hold onto his starting spot. Corner is a position the Chiefs may trade for down the line of preseason if things don’t go according to plan. As of right now, Ward’s future with the team will ride with his own ability to play and we will get a good chance to evaluate him starting Saturday.
8. The Running Backs
This is a position of mystery and optimism at the current moment. After a blazing end and playoff performance last season, Damien Williams did more than enough to earn the starting spot headed into camp. The only problem is Williams has hardly suited up at all after going down with a Hamstring injury on the first day of camp. One hopes he will be healthy by opening day but with him down it has opened up a tremendous amount of opportunities for others on the roster. Carlos Hyde and Darrell Williams seem to have been benefiting the most both taking around and equal amount of reps with the first team. It will be interesting to see which one opens up Saturday night’s game. I also fully expect Darwin Thompson to be able to get several reps in the game. He has the potential to be a “secret weapon” type player for the chiefs this season, with his small stature but ability to catch the ball and break tackles he could be playing his way into more reps if he performs well.
9. Back Up Offensive Line
The Chiefs Starting Offensive Line could be one of the best in the NFL this year if everyone is to stay healthy. They combine athleticism, experience, and some nastiness that lead to some big games last year. However playing the game’s most psychical position does lead to injuries so it will be important that the backups are capable. The first man to watch will be Khalil Mckenzie, who basically took a red shirt year to learn the position last year. We haven’t seen much of him even in preseason last year as the Chiefs held him back but now we will get an opportunity to see what he can do at guard. Nick Allegretti made some buzz after being drafted in the 7th round and some thought he might be able to take the starting center job but it appears he has been mostly a guard thus far in camp but he should be playing both positions Saturday. Cam Erving who was the starter at Left Guard last year struggled at times. With LDT healthy and back at RG, (which was occupied by Andrew Wiley last year) and Wiley taking control of LG during camp, it would seem that Erving is now going to be in a 6th man type role for the line. This is interesting because Erving would even be called on to play some Tackle which is a position we haven’t seen him play much. I expect him to play all 3 positions on the line in the 4 preseason games. With the lack of a clear back up Tackle I also think it will be interesting to see which, if any, of the other current Tackles on the roster can play with consistency. My best bet is Dino Boyd will get several reps as the game goes on.
10. Spags and the new staff
The Chiefs inability to play defense cost them a chance to win the Super Bowl last season. Since the AFCCG loss it has appeared to me that Any Reid, Brett Veach, and Clark Hunt have been on a mission to find a fix to the problem and from a football stand point completely change the culture on the defensive side of the ball. I’m ready to see this aggressive new staff take control and coach players to win reps every play, and not to play just to not get beat. I think it will be interesting to see how Spags calls plays in certain situations and how he can adjust to what other teams are doing based on time, down and distance. Saturday night vs Cincinnati will be the first time to take a look at his revamped defense and will also make the picture a little clearer without revealing everything about how the defense will play in 2019.